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The Undead, a guide.
Seems fair. :P Enough nit picking by me, although I will say that the Libris Mortis D&D book does carry a great detail about undeath if that interests you, mind you it doesn't all apply to WoW.
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Some theory I came up with regarding the whole "brain" debate...

Raising the dead is essentially the process of taking a spirit and binding it back into the corpse it came from. In theory, you COULD bind a spirit into something else...a weapon, another body, whatever, but it'd be much more difficult. Why?

The brain. Even if it's not functional, it serves as a storehouse of memories, and provides a familiar frame-of-reference for the spirit when it is pushed into that mortal shell. Without the brain, the spirit may not "recognize" the body it has been forced into, and not be as easily trapped inside. When the brain is destroyed, the body is no longer "familiar" and the spirit escapes.

That's just a theory, mind, but it illustrates an example of how the brain could be important without it actually working in a living fashion.
Have you hugged an orc today?
- I am not tech support. Please do not contact me regarding technical issues. -
Nice one.
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Thats what I was thinking the other night. The whole spirit bound up inside the corpsey framework using magic or alchemy.
This is great Nostra, I love how you went over the affects of undeath and how it is to be undead.... Say are you undead? Na, really this is awesome and I am sure to use it at some point.
I have a question: What about brain damage? Humans can live with objects stuck in their brains, by miracle-like circumstances (Ripley's Believe It Or Not, some kid got an arrow straight through his brain and lived.).

Would this disable them in any way? Like, physically?

Edit: More importantly to RP, do they register pain?
We're all doomed
Any sort of massive damage to the head area would usually kill them like any other human, despite the extremely rare oddities we see in real life. (Like the man who got a pip through his head and survived... well, for a little.)

As for feeling pain, I'm not entirely sure on that one, so I'll leave it for someone else to answer.
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I asked a bit around about the whole Pain Thing when working with Terrence, and it seems that the general opinion is that it varies alot - It's more a matter of habit and shock than the nerves sending actual signals to hurt like hell.

Following that line of thought, some will automatically feel pain the ordinary way, simply because their bodies remember that's how it's supposed to go, some will won't feel anything before they turn around their head and notice that the arm's gone, and some won't feel anything at all. I suppose it all comes down to how well preserved the body is, the mind, and "experience" with being dead (after a few decades, the pain-instinct might have gotten the picture and shut down for good, I imagine).

Since there's an overwhelming risk that I'm wrong though, please correct me if I am.
Hogral Coalbeard - Impulsive Explorer
regardless of the debate that is unfolding around the Forsaken Thanks Nostra, this gives me alot more insite into how Kass thinks
When was this moved? <,<

Anywho! To answer the thing-in-a-brain question, I do believe that you can survive it, yeah. There´s a few zombies out there (some that I figure are free-willed too, being Forsaken and all), but I also think that it will disable them a lot. Looking at the zombies (for quick reference just create a Forsaken and check out the ones in Deathknell) they not only walk pretty... oddly but the few one can talk to don´t really give the impression of being part of the upper crust of intellectuals, so to speak.

Feel free to blast the thread with criticism and questions!
All makt åt Tengil, vår befriare!

Very good guide, been learnin' alot about how races in WoW aren't just 'dead humans', or 'short humans'.

Seems I know very little outside of Dwarves and Trolls. If I ever make a Forsaken, I'll remember this guide.

Anyway, a question: Do Forsaken just rot to re-death, where the brain is no longer usable, or does the Necromatic energy that sustains them run out, for them to die?
We're all doomed
I remember we having a discussion about that long ago on the forums, I think the conclussion was that noone really knows, since we haven´t seen that happening yet. I´d say that if they don´t take care, they might go too far into decay, slowly loosing some of their "functioning" but that it might not happen naturally due to necromantic energy.

Something else we do know about though is that some of the ex-Scourge undeads´ willpower wears thin to the point that they lose their minds to the Lich King once again, it´s something that the Forsaken starter quests mention a bit I think.
All makt åt Tengil, vår befriare!

Skeletal mages and Lichs are perfect proof to me that an undead does not require a brain to survive, or even think. I think their thoughts (and related abilities such as speech) are imprinted in their necromantic resurrection, and not so much in their brain. The reason zombies don't seem all too clever is because they're not meant to be. Zombies are the bread and butter of the scourge, peasants and other useless people who fell to the Scourge. They make no real scourge champions, and the ability to think and reason would be completely wasted on cannon fodder, thus they aren't made to be intelligent.

For example, abominations. On general they're brainless killing machines that aren't created put any real thought into what they maul. But there's nothing actually preventing the Scourge from raising intelligent abominations if they put effort into it. Look at Murp, he was a general. As is the abomination in northrend, leading the forsaken forces against the Vrykul.
I think there´s a difference here, especially the Liches are another case of undeath, they are... well, powerful... Hehe. Skeletal mages too, if I remember correctly, they are all mindless servants of whomever raised them, and it is only rarely they rise being sentient, noone has been able to purposedly make one though, a few equally rare times they gain sentience after time being undead as well. So them not needing a brain as such could be due to not ever been intended to do anything but serve.

Liches are different since they (or most of them) wanted to "ascend" into undeath, I think that could make the difference here and the fact that they have Phylacteries to keep them alive, one could say that they phylactery works as their brain, heh.

This could be used to say that the brain is completely uneeded, but that the spirit/essence of most undead uses it as a reference point. Thus why most Skeletal mages who are forced into the bones of their bodies are not sentient, but after a long period of servitude and, I´d assume, adjusting to the situation they may gain sentience when their essence/spirit gets a grip around the body. The Liches would have about the same reason but since they want to become undead they are mentally prepared for the change.

Something to keep in mind is that Blizzard most likely never sent a thought in this direction, so it´s essentially up us players to try to place some sense of logic and explain how things work. This is just me trying to Lorecraft some sense into the whole undeath thing, heheh.
All makt åt Tengil, vår befriare!

Actually, quite a few of the zombies and skeletons in Acherus Hold show intelligence, some of them even send you out to do quests for them. Quite a few of them also defected when they had the chance, showing more than just a bit of free will still remaining in them.

I think it's more a matter of "Is their intelligence worth the problems free will gives?". Intelligence requires a free will from what I've been able to tell, mindless undead suddenly regain their intelligence when they break free from the Lich King's grasp. (Or they had it, but were unable to use it.) I don't think that zombies have to be mindless, nor skeletons, nor anything without a brain, they just serve far better that way. A shock troop who has no self interest or intelligence works better than one who'll hesitate to put themselves in harm's way.

Hell, even -ghosts- and spectres have intelligence. And they have no physical remains left.

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